Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Guinea: RSF Calls on ECOWAS to React to Media Shutdowns in Guinea

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Guinean government’s illegal decision to strip six privately-owned independent broadcasters – four radio stations and two TV channels – of their operating licences, despite earlier pledges. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must press the Guinean authorities to stop censoring the media, RSF says.

Information and communication minister Fana Soumah took this draconian decision two months after a meeting with RSF representatives in Conakry at which he condemned the jamming of four popular radio stations and promised to resolve the crisis with the media by means of dialogue.

A sudden decree signed by the minister on 21 May rescinded the operating licences of Djoma TV, Djoma FM, Espace FM, Espace TV, Sweet FM and FIM FM. The next day, the telecommunications regulator – the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARPT) – notified the six media outlets in writing that their frequencies were being withdrawn and ordered them to dismantle their transmitters.

It was the ARPT that was presumed to have been responsible for jamming the signals of four radio stations – Espace FM, Djoma FM, FIM FM and Évasion FM – since the end of November. Espace TV, Djoma TV and Évasion TV were meanwhile withdrawn from the Canal+ and StarTimes satellite TV distribution packages in December by the media regulator, the High Authority for Communication (HAC), on “national security” grounds, and had remained unavailable ever since.

Defending the latest measures in a press release on 24 May, the government claimed that “certain media outlets are failing in their responsibilities by not complying with the laws on press freedom, the HAC and the Code of Good Conduct for Journalists.” The censored outlets, which are owned by three of Guinea’s biggest commercial media groups, are all outspoken and critical in their reporting.